Singapore had been one of the few countries that had been hit by Covid-19 to keep its schools from closing temporarily.
The government had prepared for the possibility by introducing one day of home learning a week from April 1 at all Ministry of Education-run schools. Today, in response to the ongoing spread of the virus that has led to more than 1,000 confirmed cases, the decision was made to close all schools every day for at least four weeks.
A statement from the Ministry of Education says:
"Starting from April 8, 2020, all primary, secondary, Pre-University and IHL students, including students from Special Education (SPED) schools, will shift to full Home-Based Learning (HBL) till 4 May 2020.
"All preschools, MOE Kindergartens and student care centres, including special student care centres, will suspend their general services during this period.
"Private education institutions should move to HBL, or suspend classes otherwise. Classes will resume on 5 May 2020.
"MOE and MSF will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation to assess if these measures need to be prolonged."
Singapore’s 90-plus international schools are governed by the CPE (Committee for Private Education) and have previously been unaffected by the MOE's move to HBL. However, there has been a growing number of international schools including Tanglin Trust School, Dover Court, Canadian International School, Singapore American School and International Community School (ICS) that have already decided, unilaterally, to close their campuses and move to online learning for a limited time only.
Parents should check with their individual school for clarification.
Read more: Which international school is waiving fees for families in need?
Education minster Ong Ye Kung said today that school closures are part of a "national circuit-breaker policy". He added that all mid-year exams at MOE schools will be cancelled but national exams to be taken in June will continue; the June school holiday will also take place as planned.
Other safe distancing measures included in today's announcement include the closure of most workplaces, and some entertainment venues and attractions for the next four weeks; also, all residents are encouraged to stay at home and wear a mask if going outside their home.